Bopolu City: Day 5: Institutional/Thematic Hearings

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Women Group

Presentation made by: Fatu Yean

(First Institution)

The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Co-Chairman: Good morning and welcome to the TRC and we thank you for coming to represent the Women Group of Gbarpolu County

Co-chairman: we want to say welcome to the institutional and the thematic hearings here in Bopolu city. We want tot say thank you very much for coming.

What group are you?

Presenter: Bopolu Women Organization.

What is your position?

Presenter: I am a Mobilizer

Presenter: Chairman, vice chairman, honorable Commissioners, citizens of Gbarpolu County, we the women are the most victims of this war especially in this Gbarpolu County. Where we were rape, we were taken as sex slaves, our husbands have been killed, and our children recruited for war. As you must have heard the testimonies from witnesses, you will notice that most of the atrocities committed were against us, the women for the past 15 in years. In the past years, we have been carrying these burdens on our shoulders and till present, we are still carrying these burdens. For how long can we continue to suffer like this? Take a look, at the women in this hall, amongst us, are victims of rapes, beating, humiliation, torture, slavery, exploitation etc. our husbands and children were killed and recruited as soldiers. As I speak to you, there are hundreds of women lying in bed sick of this rape and other humiliations perpetrated against us without proper treatment. There is not a single woman here that is not traumatized. We have now become the sole bread winners of or homes with absolutely no one to help. These forms of violations perpetrated against us have impaired and nullified the enjoyment of us women and children especially of human rights and fundamental freedoms

However, we want thank you to the TRC and to our dearest mother President Mama President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the peace tranquility and support. You will never be forgotten in the history of mama Liberia. We also want to be grateful to the United Nations and Non governmental organization most especially the Christians Children's Fund (CCF) for your tireless efforts in providing counseling and grants for our survivors, for building schools, hand pumps and for women center for us among other s government services you have provided and continue to provide for us.

To the TRC and the government of Liberia, are our recommendations

1. Government should take urgent action to combat and eliminate all forms of violence in both private and public in our society.

2. Immediate action should be taken to help provide adequate and quality treatment for rape survivors and also survivors of other humiliations.

3. Special attention should also be given to women whose husbands were killed and are left alone to carter to their children and homes.

4. Actions should be taken, empower women to enable us become self reliant.

5. Schools Clinics hand pumps and latrines be build in rural areas.

6. Roads should be built as hundreds of women and children are lying in sick beds in towns that are not accessible.

On behalf of myself, the women, children and citizens of Gbarpolu county, we would like to say thank you to the TRC and may the Almighty God continue to shower his abundant blessings upon you.

That's why I can be able to sit here and say something. I get a sister who her 11 children die at the river, when ever she's walking, her lappa drops from her, and she does not even know she's naked. So we want to thank these NGOs for their help. Now a days sickness has entered the villages. Blood Pressure is the other of the day. I have a sister who the rocket damaged her leg, she can hardly walk. So how can she make farm? So we want to thank the CCF and our recommendation to the TRC is

Questions from the Commissioners

Co-chairman: thank you madam Yean, for the presentation made on behalf of the women of this county. We know how badly the war affected the women of this country, that's why we put it in the Institutions and Thematic hearings of the TRC. You made a very good presentation and I want to ask you, did you write it?

Presenter: Yes.

Commissioner Coleman: have you connected your selves so we can get to all the women in Gbarpolu County?

Presenter: Yes, it is well connected. It is an organization in the kpelleh language meaning help us. We are well organized and it is not only in this town but in all of the villages.

Commissioner Steward: want to say thank you for coming and sharing with us the problems of the women in the Gbarpolu County. How well are women in the activities of the Gbarpolu County?

Presenter: Women are well involve in it because you know when we want to do some thing,

Do you people have the opportunity to participate?

Presenter: We are well involved in it.

How are women involved in peace building?

Presenter: We are trying, as you can see this group was founded, to reconcile and move on wit our lives.

Are the men cooperating with you, are they giving you their support?

Presenter: Yes, they are.

You talk about the varies problems, what kind of opportunity are there for the women of Gbarpolu?

Presenter: The first opportunity is that our Superintendent is a woman and she's down to earth and makes sure that we participate in all activities.

What is the situation of sexual violence in Gbarpolu?

Presenter: It is not rampant but it is not also too much. We still have a little here, like beating and all that stuff.

Are you saying, women don't have place to carry their problems?

Presenter: No, you see, we the people of Gbarpolu are very peaceful, but the only person that comes in is CCF.

So women are not reporting?

Presenter: We are trying to report.

To what extend is the teen age girls getting marry before their time, what your organization is doing about it.

Presenter: Well, we have, an NGO they call CPD, and they came and mobilized the youth of the county, and assure them that it is not too late. And we are giving them awareness. And the problem is not much and we are adapting.

What is the problem of rape is it common?

Presenter: No, it is not common.

And when it happens, how is it addressed?

Presenter: It's addressed well. Because a child was raped in a village, imagine the distance, and they try to do it the family way, and we stood up, and the man was punished.

To what extend are women dying in child birth?

Presenter: I don't have the record of the hospital, but I will tell you what I know, but I know one and it happe3n because of no roads.

How about little children, are women experiencing the lost of enfant?

Presenter: Of course people are dying both adults and children.

I am concern about the children?

Presenter: Well, I live in the city, so I can't tell about the people every part of the county.

Do you have a high rate of teen age pregnancy?

Presenter: Yes, it was happening after the war, but we are giving them awareness.

What will you say about women who were in displaced camps?

Presenter: We are coming back and we are facing problems, like a woman who husband die in the war, where will she sleep? We need help.

Commissioner Syllah: thank you for coming to share you experience with us, and I want to thank you for organizing that group, that is KOGUMAI, meaning help us. You talk about a woman who was rape by 12 men, where is she?

Presenter: She's here now.

You talk about another woman who was shot by a bullets, where is she?

Presenter: She stays in a near by town.

And the issue the rape is there any time, the women came together to discuss why this thing is going on?

Presenter: Yes, we had a meeting. When they brought a little girl from the other village that they rape.

What is her age?

Presenter: She is 9 years old. We had a meeting, and asking why men will rape a young baby. And they are lot of women on the street, why won't they rape them except our babies?

Were girls taken from here to another county?

Presenter: Yes, I am a victim of that, my sister just return since 1990; she left the children and the man in Nimba.

How many children does she have?

Presenter: She has 4 children.

How long did she stay there?

Presenter: From 1993, to this year.

Commissioner Bull: I want to say thank you for coming to the TRC. And I want to say thank you for the female group.

Co chairman: I want to once again say thank for all you have said to us, and for having the patience and waiting all this while.

Presenter: I want to tell you that they should teach us techniques, but they don't come to us the adults, but they go to the babies.

Institutional/Thematic Hearings Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County

Youth Group

Presentation made by: Lusene V. Nyeh

(Second Institution)

The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Co-Chairman: Good morning and welcome to the TRC and we thank you for coming to represent the Youth Group of Gbarpolu County

Please tell us your.

Presenter: My name is Lusine V. Nyeh.

How old are you?

Presenter: I am 37 years old.

What is your position with the Youth Group?

Presenter: I am the Chairman, Bopulo Youth for Development.

What are you doing for living?

Presenter: I am a farmer, and also resident of Bopolu city.

You may please do your presentation.

Presenter: December 25th 1989, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) Led by Mr. Taylor entered Liberia; the young people received all forms of abuses, such as forcibly joining the warren factions. Some lost their lives, some received serious wounds; education was lacking, young people were used as caliber by warren factions to accomplish their political gains leaving them uneducated and untended to.

As I tell you today, Honorable Chairman and members of the TRC Commission in the Public Hearings in the Bopolu City Hall, young people do not have access to getting good jobs to earn money for better lives, that is, we are not trained to job opportunities; as a result, young people get themselves involved in some ugly activities only to get money to sustain they and they families in the form of illicit mining.

Not to take much of your time, we are pleased to recommend to the International Community through the TRC to help the war affected and ex-combatant youth to form part of Vocational Training Program in various disciplines and improved academic education, by improving all primary, junior and senior high schools in Gbarpolu County. We also recommend to the International Community through the TRC to provide job opportunity to reduce the poverty rate with in the youth people in Gbarpolu County.

Which group?

Presenter: Youth Group for Gbarpolu County.

The TRC is to pay special attention to the issues of Youth. As you maybe aware, Youths were widely used doing the civil crisis; youths are easily manipulated into negative activities, TRC process is basically focus on the improvement of youth livelihood.

Questions form the commissioners

Commissioner Syllah: Now that the war is over, what are the youths doing now to go back in to the community?

Presenter: I must admit, they had not been traumatized, they are used to getting free and quick for money, there is need for capacity building

Have you got information as to weather youth had been neglected entering their community.

Presenter: We have not heard anything of that nature, but we are afraid that if nothing is done for these groups, they might post problems for themselves and the nation at large.

Commissioner Stewart: What is the level of youth involvement in farming activities?

Presenter: The strong hold of the society leaders in the hands of the youths. I can assure you that the youths are fully participating in the farming; we also notice that NGOs come with people who have the same local skills.

I hard that the market building here was not properly roofed and need outsiders to re do, whet do you have to say?

Presenter: I think the critics are doing disservice to the youths because the youths of this county fully participated in the DDRR programs and were assured that they are up to the task. Moreover, if that actually happened, they were working under the direct supervision of the technicians the NGO brought in to perform the tasks.

What's about reconciliation?

Presenter: It has been difficult as a result of lack of funding to travel around the various districts as we have several tribes in this County.

Have the youths of this County been engaged in voluntary jobs for the improvement and development this County?

Presenter: Yes, we have been in voluntarism, we on several occasions cleaned the City of Bopolu and other activities.

I heard you say the youths of this county are engaged in illicit mining, what percentage?

Presenter: Yes, a percentage of about 40% are engaged in this as a means of finding sustenance for they and their families.

You comments suggest to me that most of the youths are not engaged in farming, what do you make of that?

Presenter: No, farming is a process; as soon as the man clears the farm, he leaves it with his and proceeded to other places in search of money to maintain the family.

How is the criminal rate here, especially when it comes to rape?

Presenter: It do exist, but at a very low rate; sometime last month, we visited the court and found out that one youth was in court for rape and one elderly man for the same case. As you may be aware, rape is a global issue.

What is your level of participation when it comes to attending meetings and decisions making process by the Local Authorities in this County?

Presenter: We are always invited by the Local Authorities and on the over all, there is a cordial interaction between us.

What is the percentage of youth enrollment in school this academic year?

Presenter: Very impressive, there is a shape increased in the enrollment of youths in schools this year.

What are some of the critical needs of the youths of this county?

Presenter: If I am given the opportunity, the list goes infinitive but will give these ones: We need vocational training, Youth Recreation Centers, Sponsor youth project to enable them make an impact, like cassava farming on large scale, Youth Capacity building, Dedicated person to sponsor youths full integration into society, etc.

Commissioner Coleman: What are some of the skill training that the youths here will need to have them full participate in the recovery process of our country?

Presenter: We actually need: Auto Mechanic, Computer Training Programs, Drafting, Electricity, Electronics, etc.

What about general crimes, any particular area?

Presenter: I think the issue of general crimes is as a result of lack of skill training programs.

Are the crimes not cycle-social related?

Presenter: I have not observed anything of that nature.

What's about youths without parents?

Presenter: Our partners, the Red Cross, UNICEF and other humanitarian organizations have done very well in getting families connected and re-united.

What are some of the job opportunities the youths here needs?

Presenter: We need industrial farming, modern mining, etc.

Other organizations like the CDC and the CCDC, how these organizations working in any way to keep the NGOs coming into this county work in the confines of their mandate?

Presenter: It is just the matter of knowing the responsibilities of these groups, the youth organization will make a follow up.

Commissioner Bull: You did not give multitude of words in your speech neither did you use big words; from a biblical point of view, youths are the visionaries, you must be able to associate with the right people and learn; you must participate in every meeting of your district because you need to take on the development and reconstruction of your country as a youth. This County has produced men and women who have contributed to this country. How many schools?

Presenter: It is unfortunate, most of the schools were either looted or burnt; we have the Bopolu Central High School, the Gbarmah Central Academy, Zuo Mission and the Bopolu Mission High School which currently operates from Kindergarten to 7th grade. Like for the Bopolu Central High School, you can see the physical structure but there not enough teachers; there is just one patriotic citizen who took up his time and resources to take care of the school.

I can see that the Youth and Women groups are all in one accord and working together for the improvement of Gbarpolu County; I am sure that an attitude of gratitude, you all are making headways. Thanks very much for coming.

Co-Chair: Thanks very much and you can be assured that your recommendations will form part of our recommendations to the National Government; I hope that we will meet again in a National Youth Symposium.

Institutional/Thematic Hearings Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County

Educational Sector

Presentation made by: J. Yoko Rogers (Acting Principal of the Bopolu Central High School)

The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Co-Chairman: Good morning and welcome to the TRC and we thank you for coming to represent the Education Sector of Gbarpolu County

My name is J. Yoko Rogers, acting principal of Gbarpolu Central High school. I was born November 20, 1953. I am not the CEO.I am a proxy of the chief Education officer who is presently in Monrovia attending to some educational matters. It is less then one hour ago when I was called upon to render this service

Period before the war

Educational services were not effective in this region then called lower Lofa. This was due to the lack of road net work. The few school that were established was well taken care of.

Period of the war:

The situation was exacerbated by the coming of the war; school building were massively destroyed; school administrators, teachers and other killed , and students were used as soldiers to fight against their own people and system. Students were introduced to unwholesome activities like smoking grass, etc.

After the war

Schools are being revamped. 133 schools are in operation with only 2 High schools and 4 Junior High schools. The rest of the schools are elementary schools. Most of them not above 3grade level. Government is making frantic effects at making education work in this county.

X the Bopolu central High school is being added unto to become a full- fledged senior High school, with Laboratory and Library facilities.

X two primary schools are being constructed presently in Kongba District and in Nganforta, Bopolu District.

Constraints:

  1. No salary payment to volunteer teachers since the beginning of the academic year.
  2. no schools in most area of the county
  3. no vehicle for CEO to enable him supervise the work of schools within the county.
  4. no further learning after High school, no Junior college, no vocational training center.

Recommendations

  1. Place volunteer teachers names on payroll or issue them left over cheques
  2. construct and assign teachers to more schools in the county
  3. Assign vehicles to the CEO office.
  4. support the establishment of a tertiary level institution in the county
  5. support a science Laboratory prospect at the Bopolu central High school and at the Gbarma Central High school

Thanks.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Co-chairman: You did not mention recommendations?

Presenter: Yes. I am sorry and thanks for that reminder.

Recommendations

1. Place volunteer teachers' names on payroll or issue them left over checkups

2. Construct and assign teachers to more schools in the county

3. Assign vehicle to the CEO office.

4. Support the establishment of a tertiary level institution in the county

4. Support a science Laburatory prospect at the Bopolu central High school and at the Gbarma Central High school

Is there a vocational school?

Presenter: Yes. We have LOIC

When are do they office this training?

Presenter: They are here depending on the terms they usually go and prepared their next circle terms.

Commissioner Bull: Thanks for coming and also for the vision of this county. If there is no reconciliation, there is no peace and if there is no peace, there can be no unity.

Commissioner Coleman: There are how many districts?

Presenter: We have six districts.

How many were the population?

Presenter: About eight- thousand

Has there been any increase since the war in the education?

Presenter: Yes, there is even a night school.

What is use in terms of light, is a candle light or?

Presenter: No. is difficult.

Do you think there is problem with adult education?

Presenter: Yes, because of this, we try to run night school program.

Co-chairman: Is the generator the constrains?

Presenter: Yes, and also fuel.

Are there computers?

Presenter: Yes.

Commissioner Steward: What?s about the availability of text books?

Presenter: Yes there is problem at the elementary schools. Teachers have to make there own research.

Is there any Laboratory?

Presenter: No.

How are they copping with exams?

Presenter: One student came out with division one, they are very aquie.

What's the performance rate?

Presenter: Last exam year, our student to division one.

How many graduates did you put out last year?

Presenter: Two

How about this year?

Presenter: Five

Is it not representative?

Presenter: Yes, is quick truth

What percent of females?

Presenter: Well, no females, the two were all males.

From grade-six, how many females?

Presenter: Well, very less

What you think are reasons?

Presenter: From my point of views, the women grow faster then the men, and so some have children because of the war.

Could you say that, early learning marriage could be one factor?

Presenter: Yes they are factor

What are you doing about that?

Presenter: We move from house to house to have our people educated about these things.

How many positions of government funds are you putting into education?

Presenter: More of the funds are been use

Going also to school requirements, like uniform, is there any input?

Presenter: Yes funds are been put for that.

Could that be the problem?

Presenter: No, absolutely no problem. Government provides that.

Is there mass illiteracy program going on?

Presenter: Yes. The NRC come and teach adults.

Has any effort been made for indigenous illiteracy?

Presenter: That is not going on, but it could be very grate.

Co-chairman: There are so many schools alone the road side, how do they determine where to place the schools?

Presenter: They come to the county authority and also take in to consideration, the populations.

Are these schools built by NGOs?

Presenter: Yes.

Does government provide uniforms?

Presenter: Yes, they are very helpful

What is the qualification of the teachers?

Presenter: C- Certificate for elementary, B- Certificate Junior High And most of them college

Are these schools all available?

Presenter: Yes all the 133.

Are they all government schools?

Presenter: Yes, few are private schools.

Commissioner Coleman: The services of volunteers, what is government plan?

Presenter: Yes government is making effort through the DEO.

Co-chairman: Mr. Rogers, we want to say thanks even though the CEO was not here but you did well. You say you have six districts?

Presenter: Yes, we will be meeting with DEO, CEO.

Institutional/Thematic Hearings Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County

Legislative Caucus

Presentation made by: Albert K. Samukai

(Fourth Institution)

The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Co-Chair: You are welcome to the Institutional and Thematic Public Hearings of the TRC in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County. Please tell us your name.

Presenter: My name is Albert K. Samukai

What is your date of birth?

Presenter: I was born on November 12, 1957.

What is your Occupation?

Presenter: Deputy Director/ Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS)

Where do you live?

Presenter: I live in Barnesville, Monrovia.

Which Institution you have come to represent?

Presenter: The Legislative Caucus of Gbarpolu County

Please do your presentation.

Presenter: When we received your letter on 15th April, 2008, we were delighted owing to the fact that our county too was now given the opportunity to finally mount the stage of TRC, to participate in the national healing and consciousness process and more than that to pick up the broken and shamble pierces as well as the bitterness and scars left inflicted on us by the years of senseless and meaning less war - a war that didn't define any political solution to our national problems - problems of inequality, social injustice, corruption, tribalism, poor health and educational program, HIV-aids, under development, insufficient agro yields to feed our population among others.

You can now do your presentation.

While we ponder over the letter of invitation, our attention was quickly and strongly drawn in the topic assigned to the Caucus. We lengthily discussed the topic and try to draw an analysis on how the TRC work concerns itself with enhanced Legislative constituency involvement in governance in Gbarpolu County. We are of the mind that we can not treat the topic without commenting on the TRC process visa-a-vee the pressing matter of peace, reconciliation and unification. The TRC which is modeled after the South African experience, though the conflicts and circumstances in both South African and Liberia are not entirely synonymous, presents a fine interaction between victims and perpetrators in finding the truth about atrocity and human right abuses that would eventually lead to lasting reconciliation, which is very much essential to national peace, stability and democracy. Only through this formula, in our view can the process of addressing the complex, intricate and contentious issues of peace and reconciliation, confession and forgiveness, regret and repentance can be easily obtained in our society without resorting to private or public revenge.

The TRC formula is not strange to our county and its traditional way of solving problems and finding reconciliation and settlement within the context of what is normally referred to as "Family Talk". The process of reconciliation through the "Family talk/matter" is prevalent in all tribes or traditional setting across Liberia and it compels us to believe that the TRC system which embeds this approach will yield the desire results in rural areas in general and in Gbarpolu County in particular. The Family matter, palaver or moot is successful because at the rural settings or within communities, people interact at many levels and are compelled by established social systems to be mindful of the social ties binding people. You see, the social relationships of our people are basically long term and highly valued so much that the resolution of their disputes is done within the context maintaining good relations among themselves. Hearing at the family talk, or home talk or family palaver differs from formal court proceedings in tone, effectiveness and application and takes place before a group of kinsmen consisting of a complainant, defendant, mediator, neighbors as well as family members residing in the same community. The case is normally domestic in nature and headed by a chief mediator who may be the eldest member of the family or his designate or opinion leader who commends the respect of the community primarily for trustful and fair opinion and judgment. The moot or family palaver may be held at anytime convenient to all parties. It opens with the pronouncing or blessing by one of the elders. He chants his injunctions while the rest participate by responding in unison as affirmation to the blessing in an AIMENA manner.

The essence of the blessing and its subsequent affirmation is normally to invoke a common way and action whereby the group resolves to harmoniously find a solution or settlement through the blessing of God and the ancestors. After this, the complainant takes the floor first. The mediator or someone else for the purpose of clarity may frequently interrupt the speaker. Following his explanation, the defendant interrogates him/her to clear doubts and others. When the defendant tells his story, he too is quizzed in similar manner. Later, witnesses may be called to testify.

The testimony and quizzing exercises are normally lively and enjoyable and helps the elders and others to identify contradictions, lies and wrong doing. More than this, the exercise helps ease tension between and amongst complainants, defendants and family relations. Depending on the nature of the family palaver - belleh mumeni, okay sahn swah, pelle wu vaiye, the chief mediator may sent the litigants and then seek the opinion of the spectators who have followed the testimonies and quizzing of both parties. A decision will be derived and the chief mediator takes the full responsibility to express the consensus of the group. But in other cases, the litigants may remain as the chief mediator and elder pinpoint areas of right, wrong, faults of both parties in general and specifically the one who is mostly at fault. In either case, both parties of complainant and defendant are always present in an eye-to-eye contact when the mediator and elders present areas of faults as well as good behavior. In other words, the family matter provides a basis whereby both defendant and complainant are queried for wrong doing but are also rewarded for good behavior.

Finally, the found to be at fault would be made to extend a formal apology to the other party. This apology may be done in two folds depending on age differences, relationship and authority. In one fold, the guilty person says the apology openly and bows to the feet of the one who is right. But in the other fold, the apology may just be openly stated and accompanied with hand shake. In both cases, apology is accompanied by giving of token to the right person by the guilty party. Clothes, money (white thing) rice, oil, chicken, or kola nut, domestic slave (in ancient times) may be given. The custom and tradition demands that the winning party accepts the token and apology by returning a little token in return to signify what is term "white heart". The person fault is then lightly fined. When the fine is paid, both litigants may jointly present "cold water" to dismiss the team. This joint action is done in the spirit of restoring peace and harmony. With the family matter settled, all share the cold water-money, drink or kola nuts etc. the elder again chants blessings and expresses gratitude to the team for the restoration of peace and togetherness..

I have all alone trying to drive a point home that if the TRC is similar to our way of solving problems as I have described and narrated, then it provides us the opportunity to participate fully in the process. Whether you are a victim or perpetrator, I urge you to see the forum as being a big family palaver whose settlement is tied down to our social ties and bounds.

Like the family palaver/matter, the TRC encourages the airing of grievances to its fullest and completeness. It ensures time of intervention by which the actions and speeches or testimony remain fresh in people's minds for sober and reconciliatory reflection and forgiveness not forgetfulness. Again the hearing in taking place at a familiar setting, Gbarpolu County to make it feel more like a county matter tied to all of us interest. In it all the investigative initiatives rest with the parties, not legal counselor. This allows both the citizens and the TRC to thoroughly examine, discuss, and identify the issues of concern and abuse so that a reconciliatory path may be established.

Also, the process in our view does not impose solutions rather it contributes to the consensual solution so that parties see reasons to co-exist and respect each other, and avoid a rebirth of new grudge and ill feelings. Although we have not witnessed the demonstration of open apology in the TRC process, but the offering and acceptance of open apology as in the case of a moot, signifies that both parties value the social relationship subsisting between them and among people with in the society, and that each will exercise and mutual acceptance of the settlement and reconciliation process.

In the moat's process, the drinking together and sharing of gift by parties and the spectator symbolizes the rehabilitation of the guilty party similar in the TRC process. Both the victims and perpetrators need our fullest participation in what we call the rehabilitation and the solidarity of the community involved in the healing process.

We should all strive that reconciliation and healing in this process is characterized by reeducating the parties about the relevance of a sort social learning that is generated by structured inter-personal setting.

The TRC and the community dwellers should provide amiably corrective measures which bring about change of behavior and purpose that fuels or support misunderstanding and other social undesirable actions - such as killings, raping, human right abuses, use of violence, etc.

The success of the TRC intervention is not only dependent upon the willingness and the cooperation of both victims and perpetrators, but as well as the patience and endurance of the facilitators-Commissioners, their verse and vast knowledge and capability of the mediation process is a necessary ingredient. The mediation process we feel and suggest should embody the characteristics and charisma of being sound, convincing, unbiased and trustful. It should also reflect the protection of the interest of a victims, perpetrators and community people. The healing and reconciliation process growing out of the hearing should come through the facilitators' knowledge, experience and ideological and nationalistic reflection by which they cleverly manipulate the parties to live up to standard values of the wider society to which now these parties become ambassadors of peace, reconciliation and unity. As in the case of the traditional moot, the TRC process must provide for four elements as identified by James L. Gibbs in his study of traditional settlement and conflict resolution:

1. Support: By support we are simply referring to a system whereby the parties are encouraged to express their complaints and concerns unreservedly. The open gathering should represent a body of comity of relations, friends and concern citizens. Their presence indicates a demand for solution, genuine confession and forgiveness, as well as the conferring of credibility on the process;

2. Permissiveness: In this case the parties are and should be encouraged to mount the necessary courage and bravery to verbalize their deeply rooted feelings, hurts and frustration as well as offering of authentic apology. Permissiveness should also incorporate and explode a wide range of relevance to the roots of the crisis, issues and in our case the abuses. The goal here is to achieve peace and stability and that the victims and perpetrators harbor no ill feelings that may embitter and undermine the peace and reconciliation thereby disrupting the social relation and ties amongst citizenry.

3. The denial of reciprocity: This approach allows patience for hauling of recriminations by litigants, consideration of all concerns expressed, and showing humanistic care in addressing them;

4. Manipulation of reward: Here in lies the simplest challenge for the traditional method but the greatest challenge in the TRC process. This is so because the moot is restricted to communities, but the TRC approach is nation-wide and intended to address more critical, complex and intricate issues and problems. This process ensures that (a) the parties are coaxed to conformity - confession and forgiveness, (b) genuine apology to the victim and (c) restoration of both victims and perpetrators to good grace in the society (d) wrong doers be made to demonstrate change in behavior and community's conformity and expectations.

5. The responsibility of the community to show concern, love, and forgiveness to ensure good social relationship and peaceful co-existence, all of which culminate to the wholesome benefits of the victims, perpetrators and the society.

Conclusively, the four steps provide for (a) listing of grievances, (b) admitting guilt, (c) making an open apology, (d) be restored into the society as a refined member. Having exhausted our comments about the TRC and the beautiful jobs it is doing, we wish to offer few tips on the TRC topical concern about enhanced Legislative involvement in our county's governance process.

Problem: Like other counties in rural Liberia, our county is plagued with multiple problems which hinder Legislative - Constituency involvement in governance. These problems range from high illiteracy, under development; high illiteracy rate, lack of road network (limited access to constituency), lapses in the rule of law and law enforcement, drugs abuse, idle youths, lack of innovation and community responsibility - to poor medical and educational system, among others.

Our challenges are enormous. We must first improve access by road networks to various constituencies for constructive engagements in development matters, and exchange of views as well as consultations in the governance process of the county.

We must also within this contexts, plan together in the areas of health, education, agriculture, youth empowerment while engaging Central Government to strengthen the rule of law and the law enforcement. By these planning and engagement, we hope to develop political consciousness, awareness and alertness in the constituencies that propel our people to be full participants in the governance process of their county.

The opportunities for us are bright if we were to improve access to constituencies. This opens a window of opportunities to tap our naturally reserved resources and develop the capacity to improve and evolve;

  • Human resource
  • Provide basic social services
  • Improve agriculture
  • Provide vocational training for youths
  • Widen the scope of women empowerment and participation
  • Fight against drugs abuse
  • Realization of the poverty reduction
  • Fight against corruption
  • Strengthen-local leadership

Governance in conclusion, is a chain of parts operating together as the wheels of progress overturns for opportunities, development, construction, improved livelihood, security, among others. Success in such arrangements heavily depends on people's participation, involvement and collaboration.

To make governance much more meaningful, both the governors and the governed must play an interactive role that enhances the process of planning and management of resources. Thanks

Mr. Albert K. Samukai

Presenter / Deputy Director-ADM/Liberia Broadcasting System(LBS)

Questions from the Commissioners:

Commissioner Syllah: Thanks for finding time on your basic schedule to come and represent your Legislative Caucus. What is the relationship like between the Legislative Caucus and the people of Gbarpolu?

Presenter: Very cordial.

What is the Legislative Caucus doing in addressing the road network problem?

Presenter: As you maybe aware, the Government is divided into three distant branches, the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislative. The Legislative arm is there to enact laws that will enhance the livelihood of the citizens and I think the Legislative Caucus of Gbarpolu is tirelessly working in that regards; the aspect that has to do with rehabilitation and construction of roads, the Caucus has always approved budget appropriation.

Commissioner Stewart: To what extent is the Legislative Caucus of this County involved in the reconciliation process?

Presenter: Staffers of this county are straightly involve in the county and refer to their Legislators and in turns take it to the Assembly it can be resolved. For our county, we are actually at peace with one another; reconciliation is a process and not an event; for example, we met all the citizens in Bopolu sometimes ago and told them that there is an urgent need to reconcile, and so, we are on pile.

What percent do the local communities receive from the natural resources like gold and diamond are mined; to what extent are the locals benefiting?

Presenter: Right now, all the Stakeholders put together an act that is in making that will protect the local communities when it comes to natural resources within their localities. They will soon be empowered to attain their full involvement in the processing of their natural resources. When it comes to diamond and gold, it is very challenging, when it comes to mining, it falls directly in the purview of the Executive branch of government, like we have the Ministry of Lands and Mines, the Legislators just do not the right evict people, we just have to work with the Executive to see to it that our local communities fully benefit. Again, we are talking about reconciliation, if you go to the mining site, you will find most them to be able-body men who seeking daily bread for they and their families.

You people as citizens of Gbarpolu County, what you putting forward to the Legislators of your county for its improvement?

Presenter: We have serious problem of road network, we have had series of meetings here in this hall and as citizens, and our first problem that we placed before them was the road issue. From our discussions, we out lined four pillars starting with road network.

Commissioner Coleman: The issues of the Old Order where we are of the opinion that the Congo suppressed the Natives and that which brought all these problems; this is the fact that we all must face as a nation. The key issue here now is New Liberia, you have the power to change things, would you like to comment on that a bit?

Presenter: Legislators of present days are striving, but thanks to God that we have a President that is willing to subscribe to the rules of law. Now the issue of Imperial Presidency is ending. Perhaps, the TRC process will at the end of the day help. For example, if gold is discovered in Gbarpolu and people of that area are left out, who knows.

Commissioner Konneh: It is said that distance creates panic and suspicious among people, how constant is the Legislative Caucus visitation to the county to explain the policies of government?

Presenter: Both Houses, the Lower House has three Representatives and the Upper House has two Senators. They are represented by individuals in the county, especially the Lower House. But what I see them doing is not as a Caucus, but as individual member of the both Houses pays a frequent visitation. As I told you, it was here we all did our numeration, as I speak, Hon. Daniel Narthy is on his farm and clearing it, Hon. Momo just came from here, they are all here constantly but not as a Caucus.

How far has Caucus gone in educating the people on the importance of education, gender equity, etc.?

Presenter: The issue of gender equity is high on our priority issues; the issue of education is also very high on our agenda. Why bring people from Monrovia to perform just a carpentry job? Right now, the Caucus has put together a package where scholarship will awarded to ten females in nursing schools. There is a document that is been prepared so that Caucus with sponsor students at various higher institutions of learning and after their graduation, they will have to come back and serve the county and its people.

What is the Caucus doing in reconciling the divided communities for development and reconciliation?

Presenter: The first graduates were just two from the Bopolu High school; this place that is not far from Monrovia. Right now, the Caucus is doing all it can to empower the youths in the line of education. The Government has again eased the burden by offering Free Primary Education. As I speak to you, the Legislative Caucus has put in place a system where the students of the county at the higher institutions of learning, for example, Gbarpolu has 37 students ant the University of Liberia, 27 students at the Smart Institute, 17 students at the United Methodist University, just to name a few; so the Caucus is doing everything possible to empower its youths educationally.

Gbarpolu County is one of the counties that contributed to our Liberian society years back, what are the present Educated People of Bopolu doing to have it improved?

Presenter: Yes, this Bopolu is one of the oldest districts, it contributed immensely. Because of the lack of the involvement of the people in terms of development despite its contribution led to an Act that gave it a County Status. For those of from here, take our road to be a paved road compared to the past. We can see that our county is moving forward as a result of the involvement of the present government. I am an eye witness, I was brought from my district to come here and clean just up here that used to be the barrack as a slave. I think we are doing well, we were once slaves but today, we are speaking as leaders.

What is the vision of the Legislative Caucus?

Presenter: It is clear, to provide support to the Central Government, to improve our people lives by means of enacting Laws that will pave the way for development of our county. Right now, each of the major towns has a substantial portion of our county budget to construct school in those particular localities.

What is your personal perception about the work of the TRC?

Presenter: If I say anything, I will be saying it against the presentation I have just made. If we have problem, it will be with the perpetrators; I thought the perpetrators will now be moving from corner to another and telling their victims sorry instead of the victims coming and saying what happened to them. On the over all, we feel that the TRC is doing great deal of work. As an Executive of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) we will make sure that we disseminate the information of the TRC on News Beat. You can be assured that few months from now, LBS will soon cover the entire nation and the TRC work will be given full coverage.

Co-Chair: Thanks very much, you have ably represented the Legislative Caucus of this Noble County, Gbarpolu. I also want to inform you that the TRC hearing is a process and has other phases and we hope that you will meet with us right after here so that we can give you the full details. Thanks very much for coming.

Institutional/Thematic Hearings Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County

Office of the Superintendent

Presentation made by: J. Yoko Rodgers

(Firth Institution)

The presenter of First Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings Officer Pastor John Teayah.

Co-Chairman: we want to welcome you to the TRC and thanks for your contributions.

I think today this is you second time coming here. So we want to say welcome again, and you may proceed.

Honorable Commissioners and other members of the TRC, members of the Judiciary, District Commissioners, Paramount, Clan, and Town Chiefs of Gbarpolu County. Members of the UNMIL Civil Affairs, NGOs, INGOs, Friends and Partners in Progress, Member of the press, the peace Loving people of Gbarpolu County, Ladies and gentlemen.

No, I am not the Hon. Gertrude Tense Lamine (Superintendent of this County) nor am I honorable K. Moses Monlonporlor, Sr (Asst. superintendent for development). The two have been part of these hearings from the very beginning. Barely two days ago, they were constraint by a call to travel to Monrovia, Saniquellie and Buchanan to attend regional and sectional workshops. As project Planner of the County, they have designated me to proxy for them to make these few statements on behalf of the people of Gbarpolu County. I stand honor by this call of duty.

Let's be aware that Gbarpolu County is the newest of Liberia's 15 political subdivisions. It is the most diverse in terms of the ethnicity. 12 of Liberia's 16 ethnic groups are residents of this County. Gbarpolu is rich in diamond, gold; timber etc. let us also note with clarity that it is the least developed of the 15.

Prior to the civil war this region now called Gbarpolu County was part of Lofa County. Taxes were effectively collected and transmit to Voinjama, but the effect of development was never felt in this region then called Lower Lofa. This and other factors give Gbarpolu its status as the least developed of the 15.

More than 50% of the county is inaccessible by road. To date, there is no police or other securities presence in three of the six districts simply because there are no road network connecting towns and villages. Cases of the various magnitudes are adjudicated by traditional leaders working in collaboration with the District Commissioners.

Delivery of medical and educational services to most part of the county are yet illusive, all tied to the lack of good road networks. Predicated upon the aforementioned it is worthy to not the SINGL MOST IMPORTANT NEED OF THE COUNTY IS ROAD NETWORK. The Gbarpolu people want roads connected from sawmill Junction through Gbarma Town to Normondotu. We want road connected from Brewerville through Bopolu to Belle Fasamah. If these roads are truly put in places, development is bound to come to the people of these regions. Basic services of different dimensions will reach the people as it is being done in other counties having good roads networks.

When these are done, good governance will reach the people of the county.

Recommendations:

  1. Our Roads
  2. Development of more security personnel

3. As a county we wish to establish a wood processing factory.

Questions from the Commissioners:

Cochairman: Thank you so much Mr. Rogers for representing your superintendent office. Now we see that even in the absence of the heads citizens can take their place.

Commissioner Konneh: first we want to thank you for coming, are you confronting similar problems here in Gbarpolu?

Presenter: I don't know, about any problem at such.

What about over lapping of office?

Presenter: Still I have not seen any kind of conflict with him, and I k now that he works very well in his office, but I am not aware of him having problems as such.

How are the officials cooperating and doing their works?

Presenter: You see, our county is very traditional in solving problems. When there are problems at such, the city mayor, and the others go ahead and settle their disputes.

What do you refer to as the traditional method of solving your problem?

Presenter: Meaning, in our setting, we take it to the elders, and if it can not be settled, we then take it to the city mayor.

What has been the most talk about amongst your county people?

Presenter: We have tried to tell our people that the administration of sasaywood, is no the best way of solving our problems. And the people are getting to understand it.

What has been the duty of the superintendent office when it comes to the administration of this sasay wood, what effort are you making, or what mechanism are you applying.

Presenter: I am aware we are getting this awareness to our varies towns and villages, and as we can see, we are trying our best in understanding the facts.

What is the connection of the superintendent office to the people?

Presenter: It is cordial

Politically cordial or what?

Presenter: Both of them.

Commissioner Steward: What are the major problems of Gbarpolu and what is the office of the superintendent doing?


Presenter:
One of the major problems is boundaries. As we all k now, that this county is closer to 3 other counties and including Sierra Leone. Quite recently, the people of Lofa claim certain place in the county. And the people of Bomi are fighting and saying that the sawmill is part of Bomi. And we said no, that this place has always been part of Gbarpolu.

And how is it affecting the people of Gbarpolu?

Presenter: It is actually bring about problems amongst the people, but it is been resolved and we are finding a solution to this problems.

What are the local communities doing about this problem?

Presenter: Well, we told them, and they say, they don't want to get involve, but we should solve it in our way in peace and harmony.

What other issue is the problem?

Presenter: Another problem is the security, there are only three districts here that have the police, and that is the areas are not accessible by road.

To what extend is an ex fighter involve in to being chiefs here, is that a problem here?

Presenter: No, I have not heard of any thing like that.

And what are the other problems?

Presenter: Apart form the problems listed governance in the other side is not efficient.

Are we saying that the government lacks jurisdiction to other part of the counties?

Presenter: That has to do with the same in accessibility problem, what if there is a thief from the other village, and they don't want to come here? The chief will have to come and make a former complain.

Are there courts?

Presenter: Yes.

How are the ordinary people accessing justice?

Presenter: Justice is there, but in the case where it is serious, they will have to come here or go to Monrovia.

How is the management of the county development funds? How is the local community participating in the funds areas?

Presenter: Actually there is a committing set up, when ever there is money coming for purpose, we go in and finance the project. That is to say we have a treasury where we can easily access.

What is the 5 most import things you need here.

Presenter: Indeed our people are industrious, so we will need, roads, schools, medical services, establishing a wood processing factory in Gbarpolu County finally, we are praying for food security. People produce a lot of food, but there is no protection.

Commissioner Syllah: thank you for coming again to give your contributions. How many police officers are here present in Gbarpolu?

I don't have the figure, but they are not many.

End of the Institutional/Thematic Hearings Gbarpolu County


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